By Nan Price, MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager and IDH Website Curator
Pamela Mulhearn became a serial entrepreneur by building, buying, and selling businesses. It wasn’t until she developed the concept for Her Podium in 2017 that she truly felt aligned.
With an entrepreneurial spirit, a husband who traveled for work, and kids to raise, Pamela was drawn to business ownership for the flexibility. However, she recognized the challenge of finding her niche.
“I would start a business, build it out, and then sell it because a day would come when I’d think: This just doesn’t feel right,” Pamela admits.
Pamela is a firm believer in listening to your gut. “ After starting a business, I’d listen for those whispers telling me what I should do next—that still, quiet voice that would first tell me to start a business,” she explains.
It began with one of the biggest businesses she owned while living in Cape Cod, an embroidery and printing business she ran for seven years.
“The business was great and it served its purpose. I learned a ton about running a business and how to propel it forward,” says Pamela. “But then the day came where I couldn’t do it anymore. I remember thinking: That’s it. I turned off the industrial machines we had running in our house. My husband looked at me like: What are we going to do with all this equipment?!” she recalls.
They sold the business and within a week Pamela knew what was next. Through a partnership, she opened a store. When her family decided to move back to Connecticut, she sold her portion. But even before, she admits to having that gut feeling that it was time to do something different.
Finding Her Alignment
Pamela trained to become a life coach and when she began working with women, she had a realization. “This is where my alignment should be,” she explains. “Every single time I had a business, I recognized I was learning incredible stuff that was bringing me to closer to that point. Working with women felt better, but it still wasn’t right.”
The “a-ha moment” came when Pamela realized she wasn’t truly facing her fears—and she could help others with theirs.
She explains, “People would hear I was a life coach and ask me to do some public speaking at different functions and networking events. Every time I would be asked, my response was ‘Let me check my calendar.’ I knew full well that my calendar was wide open, but I’d write back, thanking whoever for the opportunity to speak at their group and saying, ‘Unfortunately, I’m already booked.’”
The fear of public speaking consumed her. “I was living small,” Pamela admits. “I didn’t create any opportunities for myself because it was easier to stay safe and not put my voice out there.”
Driven by fear, Pamela reached her breaking point and decided to join a public speaking program.
“I took that first step and realized I can do this. It’s taken some time and practice. And I got better,” she says. “It’s still a work in progress. I’m never going to be one of those people who was born with the ability to get up in front of a group and feel like I was meant to be there. And that’s fine. I’ve accepted that. I’ve tamed my fear—I haven’t gotten rid of it; I’ve just tamed it.”
In the process, she also found her alignment.
“While I was learning about public speaking, it was like these fireworks went off. I thought: This is it! This is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Pamela recalls. “I decided I want to work with women and help them tame their fear of public speaking.”
The name came immediately to Pamela, and Her Podium was born with a mission to teach and help women feel more comfortable in their voices and polish their public speaking skills.
Working with Women
When it came to marketing and spreading the word, Pamela did quite a bit at first, including print ads. A majority of her work now comes from networking and word of mouth.
As far as finding her niche working with women, she says, “I can’t even say I work with a specific type of woman. I work with women right out of college and my oldest client is 71. I work with doctors, attorneys, C Suite executives, entrepreneurs, and coaches.”
She notes, “So many people need this help. I’ve found that the degrees you have on your wall make you an expert in your field, but they don’t make you an expert speaking in front of a group.”
Evolving, Pivoting, and Embracing Change
Her Podium began pivoting even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When Her Podium started, it was all in person. You’d stand up in front of a room at the podium and talk to the group and do the presentation,” Pamela explains. “Eventually, people started to ask for online workshops. So, we shifted to doing things twice a month, one time in person and the other time online, which worked out great for a while.”
When March 2020 came, like a majority of businesses, Her Podium transitioned to fully virtual, which she admits was a silver lining to COVID-19.
“Because it’s all virtual now, it’s opened up the entire world. I have people all over this country and I have people outside the country. Because of this pandemic, more people have been able to find me and I’ve been able to help them tame their public speaking fears,” says Pamela.
The pandemic has also created new opportunities. Beginning in January 2021, Pamela will be licensing and training facilitators to run chapters of Her Podium across the country. “To continue my mission to empower women’s voices, I’m putting together a team of women to facilitate classes and reach as many women as possible,” she explains.
Preparing for The Moment
Pamela’s entrepreneurial journey taught her to listen, learn, and align her business with purpose.
“I have a quote on my wall that says, ‘Every single thing that has happened in your life is preparing you for the moment that is yet to come.’ I agree. Every single thing I’ve learned in every business has gotten me to the point where I am today,” she says. “And now I feel completely in alignment. I don’t see myself stopping. This is the one.”